Sheffield United: Collective gains, not individual glory, motivate skipper Billy Sharp

Billy Sharp is close to scoring his 100th Sheffield United goal: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Billy Sharp is close to scoring his 100th Sheffield United goal: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Billy Sharp says helping Sheffield United succeed remains his sole focus as he closes in on another personal landmark.

The centre-forward will enter Friday night's game against Aston Villa only two goals short of his century for United after scoring three times in the club's last two games.

But with Chris Wilder's side knowing a win in the Midlands will see them seize top spot in the Championship, for 24 hours at least, Sharp is only interested in the bigger picture.

"I’d like to get there in the next few weeks," he said. "It would be a good achievement for myself. 

"But I’m just trying to score goals for the club at the minute. I’m just happy if my goals get us something from the matches."

With second-placed Leeds and leaders Norwich City playing on Saturday and Sunday respectively, United would climb above Daniel Farke's side if they beat Villa by virtue of their superior goal difference. Leeds face fellow promotion contenders Middlesbrough in an early afternoon kick-off before City host Ipswich Town in the East Anglian derby.

Billy Sharp and his team mates are third in the Championship ahead of Friday's game against Aston Villa: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Billy Sharp and his team mates are third in the Championship ahead of Friday's game against Aston Villa: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Despite turning 33 today, Sharp attributes his form to playing regulary rather than being coaxed through the season. The United's captain's effort during last weekend's win over Bolton Wanderers was his 20th of the campaign.

"I’m enjoying my football at the minute," Sharp said. "Playing week in, week out is obviously helping me. 

"You get that rhythm and build confidence. I’m just trying to score goals for Sheffield United to try and help us stay at the top end of the table."

Villa are ninth, four points behind the play-off positions, following their stalemate with Reading but boast an experienced, expensively assembled squad. Albert Adomah, Glenn Whelan and Tom Carroll are all expected to feature at Villa Park, alongside on-loan Chelsea marksman Tammy Abraham.

Describing last month's draw with City, when United twice came from a goal down, as a template for future performances on the road, Sharp said: "We’ve got some tough away games. People keep running on about these games at home that we should win. But from the start of the season we planned to win our home games and get something away from home."

"That’s how you get promotion," he added. "We’ve got some tough games coming up but we need to keep the belief, keep the confidence, be brave and make sure we keep picking up points."